In a major development, the Special Protection Group (SPG) protection given to the Gandhi family, including Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi and her children Rahul and Priyanka has been withdrawn by the Centre.

Here on, the Congress leaders will get ‘Z plus’ security provided by the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF).

The highest-level security will be withdrawn from the New Delhi residences of Sonia, her son Rahul and daughter Priyanka Gandhi Vadra after the CRPF takes over the responsibility, a Home Ministry official said.

In the wake of the latest decision, the top security cover will now be given only to the Prime Minister.

The ‘Z plus’ security means the Gandhis will be guarded by around 100 CRPF personnel. According to procedures laid down by the SPG Act, 1988, Gandhis’ SPG security cover was renewed annually after a review of threats faced by them.

The SPG was set up in 1985 after the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi on October 31, 1984.

Parliament passed the SPG Act in 1988, dedicating the group to protecting the Prime Minister alone. Later, the Act was amended for providing security to former prime ministers and their immediate family members.

Earlier in August, the Government withdrew the Special Protection Group security cover for former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Singh is also getting a ‘Z plus’ security cover.

Special Protection Group is a 3000-strong “zero error” security force. Personnel for the SPG are drawn from various Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs) on deputation and it is a highly-trained unit equipped with some of the most modern weapons, gadgets and vehicles.